The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (WCDH) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 “Words of Wonder” fellowship for writers working on a picture book for children that tells an engaging, relatable story. The judges ranked the submissions of Patrice Gopo and Kristin Gray highest for their literary merit and the likelihood of publication. They will each receive a two-week residency at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow as well as a stipend.
Drawing on her experience as the child of Jamaican immigrants, born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Patrice Gopo enjoys exploring issues of race, immigration, and belonging. Her essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including Catapult, Charlotte Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and AFAR Magazine. Her radio commentaries have appeared on Charlotte, North Carolina’s NPR Station WFAE 90.7, and she is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship. Her essay "That Autumn" was a notable in the Best American Essays 2020 and earned a National City and Regional Magazine Association award for best essay, criticism, and commentary. She is the author of All the Colors We Will See, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her debut picture book, All the Places We Call Home, will release in June 2022. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina. Please visit www.patricegopo.com to learn more.
Gopo is planning a 2023 residency when she will be working on a picture book biography told in free verse about Mahala Ashley Dickerson. Dickerson was the first Black woman admitted to the Alabama bar, the second Black woman admitted to the Indiana bar, and the first Black person admitted to the Alaska bar. Gopo explains, “While her story certainly involves overcoming obstacles, blazing trails as ‘the first,’ and caring about one’s community, this is also a poignant story of a woman who created a home in an unexpected place.” She continues, “I feel compelled to write stories that expand representation and circumvent historical messages marginalizing Black children and Black stories. It matters that Black children, and all children, have the opportunity to learn about a Black woman who fought for justice, who took risks, who built a beautiful life in the far north.”
Kristin L. Gray is the author of Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year; The Amelia Six: an Amelia Earhart Mystery, an Amazon editors’ pick of the month, 2021 Kansas Notable Book, and distinguished Junior Library Guild selection; and the forthcoming polar whodunit Penguin Ranch. She has also authored two picture books: Koala Is Not A Bear and Rover Throws A Party: Inspired by NASA’s Curiosity on Mars. A retired pediatric nurse, Kristin adores mysteries, weird science, and writing funny, fact-filled books for curious kids. She calls Arkansas home and loves nothing more than hearing from young readers. Visit her at KristinLGray.com.
Gray is planning a 2023 WCDH residency when she will be working on a picture book biography about Swedish librarian Elise Adelsköld. In the early 1950’s, Adelsköld noted many of Stockholm’s library patrons who lived on remote islands remained underserved. It wasn’t feasible for them to make the long trip to the mainland to check out or return library books. Adelsköld developed a floating library that is still in service today. Gray said she spent the pandemic learning Swedish to better research this program. She explained the book was, “inspired in part by Sweden’s floating libraries and by my own solo trip to Stockholm one summer where I took a ferry to a remote island and stayed for a week.”
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow would like to thank James Dean, author and illustrator of the best-selling Pete the Cat children’s book series, for generously funding this fellowship. Learn more about James Dean and Pete the Cat at www.petethecatbooks.com. For more information about funding a fellowship supporting the genre and/or area of interest you are passionate about, visit www.writerscolony.org/sponsor-a-fellowship.
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is “to nurture writers of all backgrounds, genres, and levels of experience in a supportive environment that builds community, stimulates new thinking, energizes creative expression, and optimizes productivity.” Since opening its doors to writers in 2000, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow has made a lasting impact on the arts and literary communities hosting over 1,800 writers from 48 states and 13 countries. For more information, please call (479)253-7444.